11 Houston Restaurant Openings You Might Have Missed

From highly anticipated BBQ joints to art-strewn fine dining.

ReikiNa
ReikiNa | Photo by Kat Ambrose
ReikiNa | Photo by Kat Ambrose

You may have not been dining out very much over this past year, but with safety measures in place and the increase in vaccinated adults, the idea of getting out of your sweats and eating somewhere other than your couch sounds more appealing than ever. In addition to supporting your tried-and-trues, now is a great time to get to know some of the new kids on the block—good thing we’ve got a lineup of the most exciting restaurant openings right here, including a truly special tasting menu haunt that complete with housemade vermouth, two eateries that double as art museums, and a spot where you’re going to want to dive head first into a plate of scratchmade rigatoni vodka (even if it sullies that new outfit).

Here are Houston’s 11 hottest restaurant openings to add to your plate this summer.

Le Jardinier
Le Jardinier | Photo by Emily Chan

Le Jardinier

Museum District
Michelin Star chef? Check. Peak seasonal menu? Check. Bangin’ desserts, gorgeous interior space, and al fresco dining with views of a lush sculpture garden? Check, check, double check. Led by Chef Alain Verzeroli, this artful French concept sits in the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building on the beautiful Museum of Fine Arts campus. Plants play a starring role on the menu, from ripe heirloom tomatoes with marinated watermelon and creamy burrata strewn with Marcona almond gremolata and plum to grilled bavette au jus topped with broccolini and eggplant mousse. Needless to say, the plates as artful as their surroundings.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

March
March | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

March

Montrose
Goodnight Hospitality’s fine dining concept finally opened its exclusive doors at the tail end of March (fittingly), and it took exactly one second for it to become the hottest ticket in town. With a refined hand, chef-partner Felipe Riccio shines with six- and nine-course tasting menus exploring the Levant region—think North African foie gras bastilla and “Fifth Quarter” tagine, which incorporates lesser-used cuts of meat like lamb heart and pig ear in an old-world Roman style. The equally lauded bar team, including general manager and beverage director Mark Sayre and bar manager Alex Negranza, oversees a 11,000-bottle wine cellar and majestic cocktail program (pro tip: it’s all about the housemade vermouth).
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Space Cowboy
Space Cowboy | Photo by Dylan Scardino

Space Cowboy

Heights
Gone is the spartan Astro Inn, and in its place is one of the city’s buzziest new staycation spots, The Heights House Hotel. What makes it such a destination, you ask? Well, there’s a pool you can grab $20 day passes to, for one. But more importantly, next to that pool sits a super chill bar, lounge, and kitchen from Night Moves Hospitality. It’s all good vibes at Space Cowboy, where owner and beverage director Greg Perez (formerly of Monkey’s Tail) helms an outrageously stellar team headlined by chef-partner Lyle Bento (Underbelly, Southern Goods). Sip expertly crafted tropical drinks like the Comin’ 2gether, with house-infused banana rum, Screwball whiskey, and a papaya popsicle. Couple that with fall-apart Filipino lechon, ahi poke with boom boom sauce, and one of the absolute best burgers in town.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Photo courtesy of Tonight & Tomorrow

Tonight & Tomorrow

Montrose
Boutique hotel La Colombe d’Or got a major facelift earlier this year, and a brand new culinary escape came along with it. Step in the 1920s-era mansion and you may audibly gasp as chef Jonathan Wicks presents his modern take on Houston cuisine, a journey that spans showboating eats like a Peruvian-style Gulf ceviche with leche de tigre, red snapper vermicelli, and pork coppa in hominy broth. And since it’s technically a hotel restaurant, you’ll also find breakfast, lunch, brunch, and a badass burger, to boot.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

ReikiNa
ReikiNa | Photo by Kat Ambrose

ReikiNa

Memorial City
It’s been months in the making. After hosting a series of private at-home dinners and “first look” pop-ups during the pandemic, chef Thomas Stacy (who earned his spurs at Uchi) put the finishing touches on this ambitious tasting menu concept earlier this month. Here, Stacy highlights Asian flavors through a European lens, offering an eight-course tasting menu that touches upon enticements like smoked buttered eggplant with sesame honey and succulent char siu pork with cherry bao alongside a thought-provoking art gallery experience that will transform every six weeks. Joining the team are the talents of sous chef Jacob Larimore (MAD, BCN) and pastry chef Carla Briseño (MAD, BCN, Roka Akor). 
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Gratify Neighborhood Bistro
Gratify Neighborhood Bistro

Gratify

Rice Village
Gone is the old Punk’s Simple Southern, and in its place is this chi-chi Euro-style bistro from Clark Cooper Concepts where an epic raw bar steals the show and locally sourced, produce-heavy eats serve as talented supporting acts. Start with an Aperol spritz paired with yellowfin crudo, freshly shucked oysters, and caviar, then linger over shareables like Belgian pommes frites, lamb meatballs and herb salad, and lentils with grilled broccolini. Seal the deal by treating yourself to housemade truffle pasta, Ora King salmon, or seriously gratifying Gruyère burger.
How to book: Call 713-524-7865 to reserve.

One Fifth Houston
One Fifth Houston | Photo by Taylor Hall

One Fifth: Red Sauce Italian

Montrose
Originally designed to rotate concepts on a yearly basis throughout the duration of its five-year lease, Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth has already made its way through more than five iterations. The latest (and potentially the last), is this red sauce-drenched Italian-American kitchen. Here, Shepherd and team make use of the city’s oldest exclusively wood-burning oven by dishing out pizzas, pastas, and good ol’ chicken parm made with quality ingredients like fresh tomatoes from Atkinson Farms and Goodthyme Farm, Liuzzi Mozzarella from Dallas’ Jimmy’s Italian Food Store, and Bianco Dinapoli tomatoes for the pizza. Start with toasted ravioli and fried calamari, then dig into veal chop marsala, rigatoni vodka, and a chicken parm bigger than your head. Finish things off with pastry director Victoria Dearmond’s dreamy Videri chocolate torte and thank us later.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Feges BBQ
Feges BBQ | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Feges BBQ

Spring Branch
Barbecue darlings and husband and wife team Patrick Feges and Erin Smith hit it out of the park with the second location of their namesake smokeshack. No longer confined to the trappings of a food court, the Feges team (including pitmaster Vince Boisaubin and chef de cuisine Marco Coleman) relies on two J&R Manufacturing Oyler Pits to crank out craveable ‘cue from whole hog and smoked chicken to spot-on brisket and burnt ends, plus innovative additions like the bulgogi beef rib and smoked salmon. Even better, Smith’s culinary chops shine in cheffy sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, Korean braised greens, chana masala, and hog fat cornbread. The new space also rocks beer and wine (Smith also spent a year as a sommelier at Camerata), a children's play area, and works from local artists.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out online.

Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse

Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse

Montrose
Combining the former Bar Victor and Pax Americana space on Montrose Boulevard, this throwback steakhouse oozes 1920s-era cool. You’re in for a swanky experience, which can include delights such as butter-soaked oysters Rockefeller, Royal Beluga Hybrid caviar, Delmonico steak, smoking milk punch, and creamy, dreamy corn brulee. In June, next-door hangout Daisy Buchanan Lounge joined the fun, bringing a sultry, moody swagger and the chance to tack on pre- or post-dinner cocktails.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Da Gama
Da Gama

Da Gama Canteen

Heights
Rishi Hospitality (Oporto Fooding & Wine House, The Queen Vic Pub and Kitchen) took inspiration from Portuguese-Indian communities in Goa, East Africa, and Portugal to develop this fresh-faced concept, stashed in the new M-K-T mixed-use development. The bright, clean dining room sets the tone for husband and wife team Rick and Shiva Di Virgilio’s refined fare—think lump crab pani puri, curry black mussels, whole sea bass wrapped in banana leaves, and succulent lamb ribs served with a series of vibrant chutneys.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms or order take-out via Toast.

Fegen’s
Fegen’s | Photo by Carla Gomez

Fegen’s

Heights
Another newcomer is leveling up Houston’s Italian-American game, this one hailing from veteran chef Lance Fegen (Brennan’s, The Houstonian, Liberty Kitchen). Fegen’s has taken over the original LK space, introducing a neighborhood spot you can count on for brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour. Classic comfort dishes run the gamut from clam chowder, chicken schnitzel, and hot cross buns in gravy to fried eggplant pie, linguine and clam sauce, and Sunday ragu. Wash it all down with a bourbon and limoncello cocktail, as any good Italian-American would.
How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out via Toast.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who has got a lot of eating to do. Follow her culinary journeys @brookeviggiano on Twitter and @brookiefafa on IG.